Saturday, March 31, 2012

It's the Pits!


These are two four pound bags of cherry pits. As many of you know, I have arthritis in my spine.  When it really hurts I use a heating pad to help relax the muscles in my back.  Except it's not a heating pad, it's a fabric bag filled with cherry pits. (I kid you not.)  It works like a charm.  But the one I had was a little big and I wanted a smaller one, so I did a search and found  The Cherry Pit Store.
What I did NOT know is these pads can be chilled also.  When I was visiting my Maryland family, my friend pulled one out of the freezer for me.  OH!  So I ordered a couple of bags of cherry pits.

I estimated the size of the bag I wanted to make, and cut a piece of fabric 8-1/2" x 17".

I folded it in half with the right sides together, sewed up the sides.

 I weighed out a pound of the cherry pits, then put them in the bag, and sewed up the last side.
This blue one will live in the freezer.  I'll make a red pad about the same size to use when I want a hot pad.To use a hot pad, I'll just put it in the microwave for two minutes.

Wednesday, March 28, 2012


This was hanging in one of the ladies rest rooms at the American Visionary Art Museum. I thought it was fun. Click the photo to enlarge.

The vacation is over, and I am back to work today.

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

American Visionary Art Museum

I don't know how it happened, but I forgot my camera on the day I visited the American Visionary Art Museum. These photos were taken with my iPhone. 

At any rate, if you are ever in Baltimore Maryland with a day to spare, check this place out.  You won't be disappointed. There are amazing things around every corner. 
 Photography isn't allowed in the museum itself, these photos are of the building's exterior - yes it's mosaic, and most of it is pieces of mirror, so they reflect the light differently depending on the weather and where you are standing.
We were there on a rainy day, so the sky was white, but when we looked at the building from another angle, it reflected the buildings around it.
This is the entrance. If you look very carefully, you can see part of my reflection. I'm wearing a light green jacket, which is visible in the second panel from the right on the bottom row.
Here you can see the mosaic is comprised of lots of recycled pieces of glass.
And the building itself is not the only thing covered in bits of mirror glass mosaic.  Yes, this is a school bus.

I -told- you it was amazing!

Monday, March 26, 2012


It was a great vacation, and I'll remember it for a long time.  I can't think of a single best "part" because it was all pretty terrific.

This is me at the Cherry Blossom Festival on what turned out to be the "peak" day for the blooms.  They were exquisite, but I am happy to me home and sleep in my own bed.

Sunday, March 25, 2012

A bit out of the ordinary

You don't see this everyday. Unless you live in Baltimore and frequent the Paper Moon diner. The food is great too!

Friday, March 23, 2012


Funny how things happen. I was visiting Savage Mill and found some fabrics on sale.

They somehow followed me out the door...


Even 500 miles away from home I made sure to watch the finale of Project Runway All-Stars. I sort of wanted each of them to win for different reasons. I was disappointed that Michael was not in the final two but I was very happy Mondo was chosen as the winner. Austin had been getting on my nerves lately as a real prima donna.

In DC again today for more sightseeing.

Thursday, March 22, 2012

A Dress for SweetBean

The last time I visited my Maryland family, I made a dress for this little girl, whom we call "SweetBean." When her mother told her I'd be visiting, the first thing she asked was "Can Auntie make me a dress?"

The answer was a resounding YES!  We went shopping on Monday and chose the fabric for this little dress together.  This is her trying the dress on so I could see how it fit. She was so eager to try it on she didn't even take her pants off. You can see how happy she is!

Now the dress is finished, and I will be leaving today to go back to D.C. for a few more days of sight-seeing and museum-hopping.

You really didn't think I could go ten days without sewing anything, did you?

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Where Am I?

 This should give you a clue.
Believe it or not, I did not plan to be in DC for the annual Cherry Blossom Festival, but it worked out perfectly.
I attended a performance of The Chieftains at the Kennedy Center.  This is the great hall. We arrived at dusk and the light was streaming through the hall.  I loved the stencil on the windows at one end.

And, of course, I'm here to visit this little guy and the rest of his family!

Friday, March 16, 2012


I hadn't planned on hiding a cat in the Black Box quilt, but when I saw this white cat washing herself, I just couldn't resist making it the center of the "o" in the word "to."

I am going, too.

I am going to visit friends and will be away for a few days.

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Do I Have To?

One of the things that happens when you do "something, anything" to dislodge a stuck idea is that you see things in a new light.

Last week when Julie recommended I use my dud letters as "placeholders" in the design of the Black Box quilt, I had no idea I would like what I saw. Now, there's no way I'm going to use these letters like this, but as soon as I put them up, something about their recklessness appealed to me. They reminded me of  the cut up, mismatched letters in ransom notes.

I have decided to include that concept in the letters in the Black Box quilt.  The brilliant "out of the box" letters will stay as they are, but many of the other letters will be mismatched, and made of fabrics that could be described by some as "fugly."  The ambiguous A / E from Monday's post is an example of what I mean.

Wednesday, March 14, 2012


Here are some of the "fugly" (fun + ugly) fabrics I have used to make these "ransom" style letters in the Black Box quilt. I am quite happy with them, although as I make more, I may well make some substitutions.  The letters will definitely bounce around, like those in the "You."

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Scale and Print

 When you make a free pieced letter, or any quilt block, you really have to be careful the scale of  your fabric doesn't overpower what it is you're making,
Of course, there are usually ways to get around it. I didn't know what I'd use this big print for when I bought it, but it was pretty gorgeous, and I thought it had potential.  So now it's an "h," and you'll have to stay tuned to see where it will go in the Black Box quilt.

Monday, March 12, 2012


One of the neat things about free pieced letters is that the lower case "a" is the same as a lower case "e."  I actually designed this letter as an "a" but I like it better as an "e."

This letter will be going in the Black Box quilt. I just don't know where.

Friday, March 9, 2012

Why You Should Keep Your Duds

My friend Julie suggested I use my dud (excuse me, misfit letters) to fill out the rest of the phrase so I would better be able to imagine the scope of the whole thing. 

She's right. Now I have a better idea of how much space the quilt needs, and I'm much more able to see where things should go.

By the way, Julie's quilt has the same number of letters. Here it is on the same design wall.

Thank you Julie!

Thursday, March 8, 2012

So far

This is what I've got so far, and I've got a long way to go.  Last night I cleaned up my work table because my mind was either too cluttered or too empty to sew.  I know what that means -- it means I have to do SOMETHING, so I will!

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Snip Snip!

Sometimes the answer to what you're looking for is right in front of your face.
 Yes, it's the Quick Brown Fox. This quilt hangs in my sewing studio and every time I look up from my sewing table I see it.

Yesterday morning, it finally hit me over the head.  The words in the fox quilt don't have letters that blend together. They are mismatched, and they look quite lovely.
 They are also a lot smaller than the letters I had been making for the Black Box quilt. Hmm.  I had to make those letters smaller.
 But look at what will happen to this "Y" with a little judicious trimming! Not only do the letters get smaller, but I might actually be able to fit "before you can think" on one line! (well, maybe not.)
And now I think the really bright "out of the box" letters really make sense, because finally they are significantly different from the others (and not just in intensity).

I am feeling much better. I think I know where this is going.

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

If You Don't Know...

Yogi Berra said, "If you don't know where you are going, you might wind up someplace else."

After Sunday's sewing session, I wasn't sure what I should do next (the letters, more asterisks, etc.) I remembered Berra's quote, and decided to make a test "starting box." After all, the quote has to work its way TO this plain box, and with the end in sight, I should be able to make letters that "go there."

It's a test because I am not quite sure of the size or the fabrics, or the angle of the box, and if it's going to sit on something instead of floating in the air.The front face of the box is 4" square.

Monday, March 5, 2012

So Far So Good

I am very happy with the brightly colored letters and the colored asterisks. None of the elements are sewn together yet.

This quote has 49 letters, which is a lot. There are a lot of letters left to make, and the quilt could get really big.  Which isn't really a problem, but as you all know, BIG quilts take LOTS of stuff, and frankly, I don't want this quilt to be TOO big.

We'll see!

Sunday, March 4, 2012

Asterisk Flowers

 In addition to the brightly colored letters, I will also have some brightly colored asterisk flowers in the Black Box Quilt.

You can make them like this... all one color with a contrasting center.

But I also like them two-toned, as in these.

 Remember they can be rotated for slightly different emphasis.

 They are about 4-1/2" across.
I used to make them all in one color (see the top one), but I goofed once, and made a two-toned one by mistake. I liked it so much I included it in the finished quilt, and now I make them two toned on purpose.

Saturday, March 3, 2012

Rainbow in a Box

Now THIS is much better!  The letters are largish, but they will be trimmed down to a more consistent height and width.

Woo hoo!

Friday, March 2, 2012

Shout it out!

 This is the run of colors I plan to use to make the letters "out of the box."
I think it's going to be a lot better.

And yes, all the letters shown are larger than they would be in the finished quilt. I do plan to make them a lot skinnier, but I have found it is best NOT to trim them until I start sewing them together.

Thursday, March 1, 2012

Then Again, I Might Be an Idiot...

So OK, we all know I didn't really like the "before you can think" letters yesterday.  I was looking at them on a different wall from the box.

I dragged the stepladder from its usual resting place next to the refrigerator to the sewing studio and set the letters above the black box.
When I stepped down, and moved across the room to get a better look, I realized I might have been a bit too hasty with my harsh judgement.

I still don't like the chopped up colored letters; HOWEVER, this makes me realize I've got the colors the wrong way around.  The "Before you can think" should be pale and subdued.  The letters "out of the box" should be bright and riotous, a cacophony of color, fun and full of surprises (I can do that!)  Then the "you have to start with a box" letters have to move back to duller, more washed out colors, until I end with the small box at the very end. OHO! Now my brain is swirling with ideas!

So, more letters for the misfit bin, and somewhat back to the drawing board for me, but no matter. It's like Thomas Edison said, "I have not failed. I've just found 10,000 ways that won't work."